These Common Foods Can Help Treat (and Prevent!) Gut Diseases, Including Colon Cancer

Eating the right kind of foods could help tame gut diseases like colon cancer and Crohn's, suggests a brand new scientific finding

Pomegranatemasharinka/ShutterstockIf there’s one we’ve learned, it’s that eating healthy food can help ward off serious conditions like cancer—just check out these 30 cancer-fighting foods. Now researchers believe that eating certain foods can actually help treat and even prevent colon cancer, along with other gut conditions like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Researchers at the University of Warwick have found that the breakdown of a common cellular process in the gut can create an environment in which diseases—and even cancer—can flourish. And all it takes to undo this unfortunate series of events is some really tasty, healthy foods.

Called autophagy, the process is used by cells to recycle harmful or damaged structures within themselves. Autophagy helps keep your body healthy, but when it goes awry, your tissue becomes inflamed—opening the door to serious gut conditions.

The Warwick researchers identified a protein regulated by autophagy named, of all things, Kenny. Using fruit flies, the researchers were able to determine that when autophagy broke down, the levels of Kenny rose, and that led to dangerous inflammation within the gut—a process that could be even worse in humans, they say. The good news is that numerous healthy foods stimulate autophagy, which could help control the levels of Kenny. Which foods are they talking about? Try pomegranates, red grapes, pears, mushrooms, lentils, soybeans and green peas.

By providing scientists with a better understanding of the link between inflammation and autophagy—and how to control and regulate autophagy—it could mean more effective treatments for gut diseases like colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, the research suggests. Here are the signs of colon cancer you don’t want to miss.

According to Dr. Ioannis Nezis, the lead author of the research published in Nature Communications, told ScienceDaily, “Understanding the molecular mechanisms of selective autophagy and inflammation will help to use interventions to activate the autophagic pathway to prevent inflammation and promote healthy well-being during the life course.”

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